|Imagine cotton prefold (size newborn) in angel wing fold|
This is a question I get asked often. It is definitely possible, in fact I cloth diapered A from when she was a little over a week old. We used disposables for the first week (provided free of charge by the hospital), but after seeing how easy it was, I will be cloth diapering from day one with future babies.
Which diapers do you recommend?
Personally I'm a huge fan of either sized prefolds or flats and covers for the newborn stage.
These are the main reasons why I love them:
a) It is the most cost-effective way to cloth diaper a newborn, especially since they will outgrow it quickly
b) You can get a really custom fit on your newborn with prefolds and flats, which means it is a virtually bulletproof option to prevent poop blowouts
c) Prefolds and flats are super easy to get clean, much easier than synthetic fibres (which are normally found in the one-size pocket diapers).
|Thirsties Duo Wrap (size 1) over a snappi'd newborn prefold|
I used Imagine size newborn (also called size x-small) and size small prefolds on A (100% Indian cotton), paired with Thirsties Duo Wrap covers.
The Imagine prefolds are the most affordable option if you're ordering from the US, though do take into account that shipping and customs will add extra costs to the total. The difference between the x-small and the small is that the small has more layers throughout, making them slightly bulkier but also more absorbent than the x-small. If you are expecting an average to big newborn you can skip straight to the size small. I used the x-small on A for the first two months (she was 2.9 kg at birth) and then switched to the small as she needed more absorbency at that stage.
What I like about the Thirsties Duo Wrap is that the size one comes with three rise adjustment options and so will last much longer than other newborn sized covers. It is stated to fit up to 9kg (or 9 months), but I found that it fit well up to about 6kg (which for us was 6 months) - still a whole lot better than other newborn covers which will fit to maybe 4kg. Thirsties also feature double gussets - a lifesaver for keeping runny newborn poop inside the cover. We literally never had a blowout using these covers. Not many disposable diaper users can say the same!
|Double gussets on the Thirsties Duo Wrap|
The only prefolds that are locally available are Econobum, but they are one-size and very bulky on a newborn.
If my choices were limited to what is locally available I would go for the receiving blankets with either pep waterproofs or the newly launched Hippie Safari (not my brand!) fleece soakers.
How many diapers will I need?
Many online forums will recommend 30 - 36 prefolds/flats for the newborn stage, but I found that 24 was sufficient. Bear in mind that A was born in summer though and so the prefolds dried very quickly in the sun and heat. If your baby will be born in winter, it's probably safest to get in the 30 - 36 range.
You will also need 4 - 6 covers.
|Small receiving blanket folded to fit a newborn and then folded into the Jo Fold|
What do I do with the runny poo?
What about the meconium?
Believe it or not, it will wash out of your cloth diapers. Now I have not tried this myself as all the meconium had passed by the time we switched to cloth, but have it on good authority from a few moms that have used cloth from day one that the meconium is no problem when it comes to washing - just pop it in the machine like normal.
Doesn't ebf poo stain horribly? My diapers will be ruined!
This is where the natural bleaching properties of the sun comes in. A's prefolds used to still have yellow stains on them when they came out the wash (even though they smelled perfectly clean) - after about an hour in the summer sun the stains were completely gone. Note - the diaper needs to be wet when you place it in the sun to get the stain out.
|The problem with one-size diapers on a newborn - leg gaps|
Firstly, they will be very bulky on a newborn. This is just an aesthetic issue though and if they worked otherwise, one could live with the bulk for the first few weeks.
The main problem though is that you will struggle to get a good fit on your newborn's skinny little legs with the average one-size diaper, since the leg openings usually cannot get small enough. Leg gaps mean that runny poo has a chance to escape. I don't know about you, but I definitely don't want to be cleaning poo off onesies, bedding and carseats.
For the newborn stage especially, it is crucial to ensure that there are no gaps around the legs or waist. This will keep the runny poo right where it belongs: in the diaper.
Leaving you free to cuddle your precious little newborn. Bliss.
- My photo comparison of various newborn and one-size cloth diapers on a newborn doll (includes South African brands)
- Change Diapers' comparison of various newborn and one-size cloth diapers on a newborn baby (US brands only)